So many people focus on test scores, Value-Added Modeling, graduation rates, and the like that we forget about what teaching is: a discursive relationship between adult and child. I long for the day when students come up to me to reconnect after graduating - that is when I will truly know if I have made a difference or not.
The unfortunate aspect of this is the lack of investment on teacher retention in order to build and nurture these relationships and, instead, the focus on identifying the low-performing teachers to remove them. While I understand and empathize that we do not want poor teachers in front of kids, this is demoralizing educators across the country and causing good people to leave before their time. Even Teacher For America corps members - those who might be considered the most motivated young teachers - have been leaving at rates above the average. While about 50% of all teachers leave before their fifth year, almost 75% of corps members are gone in the same time.
And while I applaud those families who have structures in place to demand high performance from cyber charter school kids, even current parents will point out, "to succeed in an asynchronous learning environment, a kid needs either a firm support system at home or a strong internal drive." I would argue that there are many students in these schools that do not have those supports.
So when we are thinking about where to invest money in the future I hope policy makers and administrators understand that it is not just that the teacher is the most important academic provider in the classroom - we are also the most important relational provider in the classroom, a task much more important. As Rita Pierson said, without us there will be no "legacy of relationships."